(b) In every such action for wrongful death, the jury, or in a case tried without a jury, the court, may award such damages as to it may seem fair and just, and, may direct in what proportions the damages shall be distributed to the surviving spouse and children, including adopted children and stepchildren, brothers, sisters, parents and any persons who were financially dependent upon the decedent at the time of his or her death or would otherwise be equitably entitled to share in such distribution after making provision for those expenditures, if any, specified in subdivision (2), subsection (c) of this section. If there are no such survivors, then the damages shall be distributed in accordance with the decedent's will or, if there is no will, in accordance with the laws of descent and distribution as set forth in chapter forty-two of this code. If the jury renders only a general verdict on damages and does not provide for the distribution thereof, the court shall distribute the damages in accordance with the provisions of this subsection.
(c) (1) The verdict of the jury shall include, but may not be limited to, damages for the following: (A) Sorrow, mental anguish, and solace which may include society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice of the decedent; (B) compensation for reasonably expected loss of (i) income of the decedent, and (ii) services, protection, care and assistance provided by the decedent; (C) expenses for the care, treatment and hospitalization of the decedent incident to the injury resulting in death; and (D) reasonable funeral expenses.
(2) In its verdict the jury shall set forth separately the amount of damages, if any, awarded by it for reasonable funeral, hospital, medical and said other expenses incurred as a result of the wrongful act, neglect or default of the defendant or defendants which resulted in death, and any such amount recovered for such expenses shall be so expended by the personal representative.
(d) Every such action shall be commenced within two years after the death of such deceased person, subject to the provisions of section eighteen, article two, chapter fifty-five. The provisions of this section shall not apply to actions brought for the death of any person occurring prior to the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred eighty-eight.
(b) If any such action is begun during the lifetime of the injured party, and within the period of time permissible under the applicable statute of limitations as provided by articles two and two-a of this chapter, (either against the wrongdoer or his personal representative), and such injured party dies pending the action it may be revived in favor of the personal representative of such injured party and prosecuted to judgment and execution against the wrongdoer or his personal representative.
(c) If the injured party dies before having begun any such action and it is not at the time of his death barred by the applicable statute of limitations under the provisions of articles two and two-a of this chapter, such action may be begun by the personal representative of the injured party against the wrongdoer or his personal representative and prosecuted to judgment and execution against the wrongdoer or his personal representative. Any such action shall be instituted within the same period of time that would have been applicable had the injured party not died.
(d) If any such action mentioned in the preceding subsections (a), (b) and/or (c) shall have been begun against the wrongdoer and he or she dies during the pendency thereof, it may be revived against the personal representative of the wrongdoer and prosecuted to judgment and execution.
(e) The applicable provisions of article eight, chapter fifty-six of this code shall govern the actions hereinabove mentioned, with reference to their abatement, revival, discontinuance, reinstatement and substitution of parties.
(f) Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to extend the time within which an action for any other tort shall be brought, nor to give the right to assign a claim for a tort not otherwise assignable.
(1) Negotiate or attempt to negotiate a settlement of any claim for such personal injury with or for and on behalf of the injured person;
(2) Obtain or attempt to obtain from the injured person a partial or general release of liability for such injury; or
(3) Obtain or attempt to obtain any statement, either written or oral, from the injured person for use in negotiating a settlement or obtaining a partial or general release of liability with respect to the personal injury: Provided, That nothing herein shall prohibit a person acting or intending to act for and on behalf of the injured person from obtaining any statement, oral or written, from an injured person upon the express request of the injured person.
Nothing herein shall prevent a person who may be liable for damages on account of the personal injury from making an advance payment of all or any part of his or her liability for the damages; any sum paid during the twenty days by a person liable for damages on account of the personal injury is allowed as full credit against any damages which may be finally determined to be due an injured person.
Any settlement, release of liability or statement entered into, obtained or made in violation of this section may be disavowed by the injured person at any time within one hundred eighty days from the date of the personal injury by executing a written statement of disavowal and thereupon forwarding a copy of the same to the person violating this section, in which event the settlement, release or statement may not be admissible in evidence for any purpose in any court or other proceeding relating to the personal injury, if any consideration paid for the settlement of or the general release of liability for the personal injury, at the time of the forwarding of the copy of the written statement of disavowal, is repaid or returned to the person who paid the consideration.
(b) (1) No statement, affirmation, gesture or conduct of a healthcare provider who provided healthcare services to a patient, expressing apology, sympathy, commiseration, condolence, compassion or a general sense of benevolence, to the patient, a relative of the patient or a representative of the patient and which relate to the discomfort, pain, suffering, injury or death of the patient shall be admissible as evidence of an admission of liability or as evidence of an admission against interest in any civil action brought under the provisions of article seven-b, chapter fifty-five of this code, or in any arbitration, mediation or other alternative dispute resolution proceeding related to such civil action.
(2) Terms not otherwise defined in this section have the meanings assigned to them in article seven-b, chapter fifty-five of this code. For purposes of this section, unless the context otherwise requires, "relative" means a spouse, parent, grandparent, stepfather, stepmother, child, grandchild, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister or spouse's parents. The term includes said relationships that are created as a result of adoption. In addition, "relative" includes any person who has a family-type relationship with a patient.
Acts, 2015 Reg. Sess., Ch. 59.
(a) For purposes of this article, "comparative fault" means the degree to which the fault of a person was a proximate cause of an alleged personal injury or death or damage to property, expressed as a percentage. Fault shall be determined according to section thirteen-c of this article.
(b) In any action based on tort or any other legal theory seeking damages for personal injury, property damage, or wrongful death, recovery shall be predicated upon principles of comparative fault and the liability of each person, including plaintiffs, defendants and nonparties who proximately caused the damages, shall be allocated to each applicable person in direct proportion to that person's percentage of fault.
(c) The total of the percentages of comparative fault allocated by the trier of fact with respect to a particular incident or injury must equal either zero percent or one hundred percent.
As used in this article:
"Compensatory damages" means damages awarded to compensate a plaintiff for economic and noneconomic loss.
"Defendant" means, for purposes of determining an obligation to pay damages to another under this chapter, any person against whom a claim is asserted including a counter-claim defendant, cross-claim defendant or third-party defendant.
"Fault" means an act or omission of a person, which is a proximate cause of injury or death to another person or persons, damage to property, or economic injury, including, but not limited to, negligence, malpractice, strict product liability, absolute liability, liability under section two, article four, chapter twenty-three of this code or assumption of the risk.
"Plaintiff" means, for purposes of determining a right to recover under this chapter, any person asserting a claim.
(a) In any action for damages, the liability of each defendant for compensatory damages shall be several only and may not be joint. Each defendant shall be liable only for the amount of compensatory damages allocated to that defendant in direct proportion to that defendant's percentage of fault, and a separate judgment shall be rendered against each defendant for his or her share of that amount. However, joint liability may be imposed on two or more defendants who consciously conspire and deliberately pursue a common plan or design to commit a tortious act or omission. Any person held jointly liable under this section shall have a right of contribution from other defendants that acted in concert.
(b) To determine the amount of judgment to be entered against each defendant, the court, with regard to each defendant, shall multiply the total amount of compensatory damages recoverable by the plaintiff by the percentage of each defendant's fault and, subject to subsection (d) of this section, that amount shall be the maximum recoverable against that defendant.
(c) Any fault chargeable to the plaintiff shall not bar recovery by the plaintiff unless the plaintiff's fault is greater than the combined fault of all other persons responsible for the total amount of damages, if any, to be awarded. If the plaintiff's fault is less than the combined fault of all other persons, the plaintiff's recovery shall be reduced in proportion to the plaintiff's degree of fault.
(d) Notwithstanding subsection (b) of this section, if a plaintiff through good faith efforts is unable to collect from a liable defendant, the plaintiff may, not later than one year after judgment becomes final through lapse of time for appeal or through exhaustion of appeal, whichever occurs later, move for reallocation of any uncollectible amount among the other parties found to be liable.
(1) Upon the filing of the motion, the court shall determine whether all or part of a defendant's proportionate share of the verdict is uncollectible from that defendant and shall reallocate the uncollectible amount among the other parties found to be liable, including a plaintiff at fault, according to their percentages at fault: Provided, That the court may not reallocate to any defendant an uncollectible amount greater than that defendant's percentage of fault multiplied by the uncollectible amount: Provided, however,, That there shall be no reallocation against a defendant whose percentage of fault is equal to or less than the plaintiff's percentage of fault.
(2) If the motion is filed, the parties may conduct discovery on the issue of collectibility prior to a hearing on the motion.
(e) A party whose liability is reallocated under subsection (d) of this section is nonetheless subject to contribution and to any continuing liability to the plaintiff on the judgment.
(f) This section does not affect, impair or abrogate any right of indemnity or contribution arising out of any contract or agreement or any right of indemnity otherwise provided by law.
(g) The fault allocated under this section to an immune defendant or a defendant whose liability is limited by law may not be allocated to any other defendant.
(h) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section to the contrary, a defendant that commits one or more of the followings acts or omissions shall be jointly and severally liable:
(1) A defendant whose conduct constitutes driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or any other drug or any combination thereof, as described in section two, article five, chapter seventeen-c of this code, which is a proximate cause of the damages suffered by the plaintiff;
(2) A defendant whose acts or omissions constitute criminal conduct which is a proximate cause of the damages suffered by the plaintiff; or
(3) A defendant whose conduct constitutes an illegal disposal of hazardous waste, as described in section three, article eighteen, chapter twenty-two of this code, which conduct is a proximate cause of the damages suffered by the plaintiff.
(i) This section does not apply to the following statutes:
(1) Article twelve-a, chapter twenty-nine of this code;
(2) Chapter forty-six of this code; and
(3) Article seven-b, chapter fifty-five of this code.
(a) Determination of fault of parties and nonparties.
(1) In assessing percentages of fault, the trier of fact shall consider the fault of all persons who contributed to the alleged damages regardless of whether the person was or could have been named as a party to the suit.
(2) Fault of a nonparty shall be considered if the plaintiff entered into a settlement agreement with the nonparty or if a defending party gives notice no later than one hundred-eight days after service of process upon said defendant that a nonparty was wholly or partially at fault. Notice shall be filed with the court and served upon all parties to the action designating the nonparty and setting forth the nonparty's name and last-known address, or the best identification of the nonparty which is possible under the circumstances, together with a brief statement of the basis for believing such nonparty to be at fault;
(3) In all instances where a nonparty is assessed a percentage of fault, any recovery by a plaintiff shall be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault chargeable to such nonparty. Where a plaintiff has settled with a party or nonparty before verdict, that plaintiff's recovery will be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault assigned to the settling party or nonparty.
(4) Nothing in this section is meant to eliminate or diminish any defenses or immunities, which exist as of the effective date of this section, except as expressly noted herein;
(5) Assessments of percentages of fault for nonparties are used only as a vehicle for accurately determining the fault of named parties. Where fault is assessed against nonparties, findings of such fault do not subject any nonparty to liability in that or any other action, or may not be introduced as evidence of liability or for any other purpose in any other action; and
(6) In all actions involving fault of more than one person, unless otherwise agreed by all parties to the action, the court shall instruct the jury to answer special interrogatories or, if there is no jury, shall make findings, indicating the percentage of the total fault that is allocated to each party and nonparty pursuant to this article. For this purpose, the court may determine that two or more persons are to be treated as a single person.
(b) Imputed fault. - Nothing in this section may be construed as precluding a person from being held liable for the portion of comparative fault assessed against another person who was acting as an agent or servant of such person, or if the fault of the other person is otherwise imputed or attributed to such person by statute or common law. In any action where any party seeks to impute fault to another, the court shall instruct the jury to answer special interrogatories or, if there is no jury, shall make findings, on the issue of imputed fault.
(c) Plaintiff's involvement in felony criminal act. - In any civil action, a defendant is not liable for damages that the plaintiff suffers as a result of the negligence or gross negligence of a defendant if such damages arise out of the plaintiff's commission, attempt to commit or fleeing from the commission of a felony criminal act: Provided, That the plaintiff has been convicted of such felony, or if deceased, the jury makes a finding that the decedent committed such felony.
(d) Burden of proof. - The burden of alleging and proving comparative fault shall be upon the person who seeks to establish such fault.
(e) Limitations. - Nothing in this section creates a cause of action. Nothing in this section alters, in any way, the immunity of any person as established by statute or common law.
(f) Applicability. - This section applies to all causes of action arising or accruing on or after the effective date of its enactment.
(g) Severability. - The provisions of this section are severable from one another, so that if any provision of this section is held void, the remaining provisions of this section shall remain valid.
In no event, however, shall any owner, licensee or operator or the agents or employees of any such owner, licensee or operator of such a station or network of stations be held liable for any damages for any defamatory statement uttered over the facilities of such station or network by any legally qualified candidate for public office.
(b) For the purposes of this section, a national ski patrol system is a national organization whose members are volunteers and do not receive compensation and are required to obtain training in safety and emergency medical treatment.
(c) For purposes of this section, the term "compensation" does not include access to a recreational facility, complimentary lift tickets, food, lodging or other gifts or discounts that may be offered or accessible to a person.
For the purposes of this section, "hazardous substance" means any "hazardous substance" as defined in chapter eighty-eight, Acts of the Legislature, regular session, one thousand nine hundred eighty-five; any "chemical substances and materials" listed in the rules promulgated by the commissioner of labor pursuant to section eighteen, article three, chapter twenty-one, of this code; and any "hazardous waste" as defined in section three, article eighteen, chapter twenty-two of this code.
(b) For the purposes of this section, the presumption of good faith is rebutted upon a showing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the information disclosed was:
(1) Knowingly false;
(2) Disclosed with reckless disregard for the truth;
(3) Deliberately misleading;
(4) Rendered with malicious purpose toward the former or current employee; or
(5) Disclosed in violation of a nondisclosure agreement or applicable law.
(c) For purposes of this section, "job-related information" means information concerning a person's education, training, experience, qualifications, conduct and job performance which is offered for the purpose of providing criteria to evaluate the person's suitability for employment.
(d) If an employer disclosed job-related information to a prospective employer of a former or current employee that was false or misleading, and if the current or former employee requests, then the employer shall give corrected information to every person or entity that is in the employer's records as having received the original information, with a copy thereof to the former or current employee.
(b) The limitation of liability established by the provisions of this section shall not apply to acts or omissions constituting gross negligence. For purposes of this section, the term "athletic event" includes scheduled practices for any athletic event.
(b) No complaint to a licensing or accrediting entity against a court-appointed licensed psychologist or psychiatrist relating to a child custody evaluation shall be considered if it is filed anonymously and does not include the full name, address and telephone number of the complainant.
(c) Any action filed against a licensed psychologist or licensed psychiatrist alleging tortious conduct related to evidence provided while acting as a court-appointed expert in a child custody matter shall contain a recitation of a specific allegation of breaches of American psychological association's guidelines for child custody evaluations in divorce proceedings. Failure to specifically plead such violations shall be cause for dismissal of the action.
(d) Any licensed psychologist or licensed psychiatrist who is named in a civil action as a defendant because of his or her performance of a child custody evaluation while acting as a court-appointed expert and who prevails due to a finding that he or she acted consistently with the American psychological association's guidelines shall be entitled to reimbursement of all reasonable costs and attorneys fees expended.
(b) A lawful occupant within a home or other place of residence does not have a duty to retreat from an intruder or attacker in the circumstances described in subsection (a) of this section.
(c) A person not engaged in unlawful activity who is attacked in any place he or she has a legal right to be outside of his or her home or residence may use reasonable and proportionate force against an intruder or attacker: Provided, That such person may use deadly force against an intruder or attacker in a place that is not his or her residence without a duty to retreat if the person reasonably believes that he or she or another is in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm from which he or she or another can only be saved by the use of deadly force against the intruder or attacker.
(d) The justified use of reasonable and proportionate force under this section shall constitute a full and complete defense to any civil action brought by an intruder or attacker against a person using such force.
(e) The full and complete civil defense created by the provisions of this section is not available to a person who:
(1) Is attempting to commit, committing or escaping from the commission of a felony;
(2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself, herself or another with the intent to use such force as an excuse to inflict bodily harm upon the assailant; or
(3) Otherwise initially provokes the use of force against himself, herself or another, unless he or she withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.
(f) The provisions of this section do not apply to the creation of a hazardous or dangerous condition on or in any real or personal property designed to prevent criminal conduct or cause injury to a person engaging in criminal conduct.
(g) Nothing in this section shall authorize or justify a person to resist or obstruct a law-enforcement officer acting in the course of his or her duty.
(b) The provisions of this section are not intended to create a new cause of action.
Acts, 2015 Reg. Sess., Ch. 59.
(b) Neither a first responder nor his or her supervisor, agency, employer or supervising entity is liable for any civil damages or criminal liability resulting from a forcible entry of a home, business or other structure if the first responder:
(1) Is responding to a documented 911 call for emergency medical assistance;
(2) Has made reasonable efforts to summon an occupant of the home, business, or structure by knocking or otherwise notifying the occupant(s) of his or her presence;
(3) Has not received a response from an occupant within a reasonable period of time; and
(4) Has a good faith belief that it is necessary to make a forcible entry for the purposes of rendering emergency medical assistance or preventing imminent bodily harm.
(a) A possessor of real property, including an owner, lessee or other lawful occupant, owes no duty of care to a trespasser except in those circumstances where a common-law right-of-action existed as of the effective date of this section, including the duty to refrain from willfully or wantonly causing the trespasser injury.
(b) A possessor of real property may use justifiable force to repel a criminal trespasser as provided by section twenty-two of this article.
(c) This section does not increase the liability of any possessor of real property and does not affect any immunities from or defenses to liability established by another section of this code or available at common law to which a possessor of real property may be entitled.
(d) The Legislature intends to codify and preserve the common law in West Virginia on the duties owed to trespassers by possessors of real property as of the effective date of this section.
(a) A possessor of real property, including an owner, lessee or other lawful occupant, owes no duty of care to protect others against dangers that are open, obvious, reasonably apparent or as well known to the person injured as they are to the owner or occupant, and shall not be held liable for civil damages for any injuries sustained as a result of such dangers.
(b) Nothing in this section creates, recognizes or ratifies a claim or cause of action of any kind.
(c) It is the intent and policy of the Legislature that this section reinstates and codifies the open and obvious hazard doctrine in actions seeking to assert liability against an owner, lessee or other lawful occupant of real property to its status prior to the decision of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in the matter of Hersh v. E-T Enterprises, Limited Partnership, 232 W. Va. 305 (2013). In its application of the doctrine, the court as a matter of law shall appropriately apply the doctrine considering the nature and severity, or lack thereof, of violations of any statute relating to a cause of action.
(a) An award of punitive damages may only occur in a civil action against a defendant if a plaintiff establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the damages suffered were the result of the conduct that was carried out by the defendant with actual malice toward the plaintiff or a conscious, reckless and outrageous indifference to the health, safety and welfare of others.
(b) Any civil action tried before a jury involving punitive damages may, upon request of any defendant, be conducted in a bifurcated trial in accordance with the following guidelines:
(1) In the first stage of a bifurcated trial, the jury shall determine liability for compensatory damages and the amount of compensatory damages, if any.
(2) If the jury finds during the first stage of a bifurcated trial that a defendant is liable for compensatory damages, then the court shall determine whether sufficient evidence exists to proceed with a consideration of punitive damages.
(3) If the court finds that sufficient evidence exists to proceed with a consideration of punitive damages, the same jury shall determine if a defendant is liable for punitive damages in the second stage of a bifurcated trial and may award such damages.
(4) If the jury returns an award for punitive damages that exceeds the amounts allowed under subsection (c) of this section, the court shall reduce any such award to comply with the limitations set forth therein.
(c) The amount of punitive damages that may be awarded in a civil action may not exceed the greater of four times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2015 Regular Session
The WV Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.